Finding inspiration from our neighbors

by Louis Duke

Lately, whenever I tune into the news or open Twitter, I catch myself discouraged by the way our headlines can make us feel like the world is ending at any moment or how the comments section leaves me wondering if we can ever bridge the great divides of our modern society. Yet, when I look up from the screen and away from the social media feeds, I see an office full of people and state full of community leaders that fill me with hope and inspiration.

I’m inspired by the staff and board leaders at the Edenton-Chowan Food Pantry. I had the honor of interviewing this dynamic team for our most recent NCCF newsletter -- and with every word they spoke, they left my heart full of hope. This team brought their community together to build a fund to fight hunger that will live on in their communities for generations to come. The raw, unapologetic passion Roger Coleman, Amanda Howell and Gerard Cooney exuded for not only the nonprofit they serve, but also the community they love reminded me that headlines are just headlines and there’s always more to a community’s story.

On the other side of the state, I left a recent visit to Hickory energized thanks to the enthusiasm I witnessed at the Catawba County Early Childhood Education Summit. Folks in the Catawba Valley convened for a day of collaboration and conversation on how we can come together to support early childhood education, one of the most fundamental building blocks to a community’s success. In that room, it wasn’t about alarm bells, headlines or outrage, the focus was clear: everyone was there for solutions. The community came to talk about how they can help, and it was downright inspiring to see.

Often, inspiration can even come in small ways, like a family I’ve gotten to know that’s passing philanthropy on through generations or the wonderful story of a groundbreaking couple whose commitment has lasted 50 years that our friends at the News & Observer recently ran. Sometimes, even a meeting can give me hope, like our recent internal conversations on the NCCF team about how we can come together across functions to make our annual fundraising campaign, the Chairman’s Challenge, as effective as possible.

If you’re like me and find yourself surrounded by screens full of social media feeds sounding alarms, I hope you can find inspiration in your community. And if you aren’t sure where to start, I have one suggestion: look up.